Glen Shiel and Skye

I got back late last night from a three day Falkirk Community Trust winter mountaineering and walking trip based in Plockton. We had excellent weather and conditions throughout making for some great days.

Jim, Wilson, Gareth, Joanne and Linda with The Forcan Ridge behind.

Jim, Wilson, Gareth, Joanne and Linda with The Forcan Ridge behind.

Having travelled up on the Thursday evening we headed for Glen Shiel on the first day with mountaineers heading for the classic Forcan Ridge on The Saddle and Craig and the walkers on the North Side of the Glen completing the three Munros of The Five Sisters.

John, climbing the main, but not crux, ice pitch of North Gully.

John, climbing the main, but not crux, ice pitch of North Gully.

On Saturday we made use of the excellent winter conditions on Skye with Craig and the walkers ascending Bruach na Frithe, whilst a team of John, me, Gareth, Jim, Joanne and Linda climbed North Gully on the Glaich Moire Face of Coire a’Mhadaidh. This gave a very good route. We got in at the bottom of the feature and soloed easy angled ground with tricky steps before climbing 7 fairly long pitches. Worth noting the guidebook length is 120m and it may, therefore, bank out lower down sometimes. On the day there was also a very short section of Tech 5, which may also bank out. We descended the open easy gully left of the crag looking up.

Joanne and Gareth with the obvious feature of North Gully between them.

Joanne and Gareth with the obvious feature of North Gully between them.

Yesterday we needed a shorter day before travelling home and gambled on Marsco. This gave a superb day for both teams with Craig and the walkers reaching and returning from the summit via the Eastern Spur of Coire nan Laogh. John, me, Gareth, Joanne, Linda and Lorn were aming for Wooly Gully, the only route in the guidebook in Coire nan Laogh. However, once in the coire this looked banked out and the obvious S-shaped gully feature in the centre of the coire looked too good to miss.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Linda and Lorn finishing the first pitch in Coire nan Laogh, Marsco.

We soloed easily through dramatic scenery on the lower part of the S before putting ropes on for the last rightwards slant of the S up from the large ledge separating the two left hand crag tiers in the coire. This gave a delightful ice/snow ice pitch. Above this the face could be climbed almost anywhere on ice and snow at about grade II with John and I taking parallel lines, his more rocky and mine more icy, mostly due to the gear we were carrying. The route brought us out about 100m East of the summit. The upper face has a serious feel despite it’s easy angle and warthogs and ice screws were definitely useful. Overall it was about Grade III and possibly a new line on an excellent, although I suspect rarely in condition, face.

The view to the team back along the summit ridge of Marsco with Clach Glas and Blabheinn behind.

The view to the team back along the summit ridge of Marsco with Clach Glas and Blabheinn behind.

A great trip with near Alpine conditions. I’ll put some photos on the ClimbNow facebook page today and Craig will add photos to the Falkirk Community Trust Facebook page.

Glen Shiel

Today, on the way back down from Skye, I stopped off in Glen Shiel. I parked at The Cluanie Inn and walked up the road for about 1.5km, before heading up an old stalker’s path and on to the ridge of Am Bathach. I used this excellent undulating grassy ridge as an approach to Ciste Dhubh, it involves more ascent than going up the glens to either side, but gives great views and pleasant walking.

The summit of Ciste Dubh

The summit of Ciste Dubh

After ascending Ciste Dhubh I returned to the Bealach a’Choinich and headed up Sgurr an Fhuarail; nipped out to Aonoch Meadhoin and then then descended the South-East ridge Sgurr an Fhuarail back to the Cluanie Inn for a coffee.

Me on the summit of Sgurr an Fhuarail

Me on the summit of Sgurr an Fhuarail

Cloud above the summits of the North Glen Shiel hills during the day and just a few very light showers by early afternoon.